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Jacques COURSIL

THE INTERNATIONAL CREOLE DAY : THE 28TH OF OCTOBER

by Georgs Delamare

Today 28th October is the International Creole day as proclaimed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It is the highest form of a recognition of our Creole culture. Since that proclamation the world now knows that we exist as a people with a specific cultural identity. This recognition of our culture and language by UNESCO did not arrive by pure chance or hazard, it is the fruit of a long battle by creole academics, militants and politicians. The process   started many years ago by academics of the Caribbean like Aime Cesaire, Edouard Glissant and Gilbert Gratiant and later taken over by Raphael Confiant, Jean Bernabe, Patrick Chamoiseau, Felix Lambert Prudent, Hector Poulet, Dany Laferiere, Rodolf Etienne. Creole academics like Gilbert Martin,Terrel Delphin, and The Creole Heritage Centre of Louisiana have also militate for their recognition as Creoles of the USA.

In the Indian Ocean,  the Republic of the Seychelles took the lead when President Albert Rene renamed the Seychelles "The Creole Republic of the Seychelles". The right hand person who organised the meetings of the representatives of the Creole world was Mrs D'Offay/ de St Jorre. She should be remembered as the Ambassador of the Creole world towards International Agencies like  Agence de Cooperation Culturel et Technique and the UNESCO.

Since 1982 there has been regular meetings in the Seychelles of academics, creolists, linguists, militants, artists, authors, cineastres, etc...and the organisation of an International Creole Festival with artists for the Creole world. These meeting and cultural activities  made echo around the world through intense media coverage. Gradually people of the creole world were getting to know more of each other, what they share in common and expressed the desire to move forward as a people who share the same culture. With such a momentum, books and literature from the creole world proliferated and received more coverage as more and more meetings of the Creole people were organised in different parts of the Creole countries. We also saw the emergence of  creole diasporas in countries like USA, Canada, France and Australia.

In La Reunion people like Alain Armand, Axel Gauvin, Mgr Gilbert Aubry and Jacqueline Fareyrole were talking more and more about the creole culture and its importance in the island.

In Rodrigues the pioneers who nurtured the creole culture were Georgy Lamvohee, Noel Allas and  Antoinette Prudence, doing much to value the Rodriguan Creole culture. Serge Clair should also be credited for organising International Creole Festivals where the Rodriguan creoles started to know more about their counterparts in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

 

In Mauritius the combat was at the beginning more  focussed  on the recognition of the Creole language led by people like Dev Virasawmy and Vinesh Homooksing, Arnaud Corporan. But the Creole culture as such was more pushed forward by  Jean Maurice Labour, Jimmy Harmon, Jocelyn Gregoire. Minister Xaxier Luc Duval, should be praised by taking the lead to organise a yearly Festival International Creole in Mauritius while the Seychelles and Rodrigues have been doing if for years.

 

The Creole Diasporas, composed mainly of Haitians have also been very vocal by organising a yearly Creole month in Montreal with the backing of the Quebec Government. Many academics have also emerged from Haiti eg dany Laferriere.

 

Today Creole people are found in many parts of the world, in the islands of the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean as well as in Europe, USA, Latin America, Cuba, Brazil, Canada, Australia.  They are proud to have brought a new culture and civilisation to the world and thus enriching the planet with a their food, their architecture, their language, their way of life, their music and dances. The Creole people have a history; from a culture which was born during the colonisation era, a culture born on the plantations, a culture born in sufferings but which has developed into a new, dynamic, rich  and modern one which keeps on rolling.

We are creoles and proud to be.

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